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Crime vocabulary– learn 7 expressions!

Crime books, crime films, crime TV series… Crime is a popular theme in entertainment. And it’s a great topic of conversation in English. So, just to help you, we’re going to teach you some really useful Crime vocabulary. This will include 7 really great words and expressions that you can use to talk about crime.

[see below for the video script]

  • First, you’re going to watch a conversation with Jenny and Archie. Jenny is talking about a hiking trip. A hiking trip, you may ask? What’s hiking (walking in the mountains or hills) got to do with crime? Well, just watch the conversation and you’ll see – there is a connection!
  • After that, we’ll teach you the meanings of some words and expressions from the video.
  • Finally, you can do a little exercise to see how much you can remember.

Right, so, as you’re watching the Crime vocabulary conversation, I want you to answer this one simple question: How successful was Jenny´s hiking trip?

Remember, for the first time, you should listen from start to finish without stopping and try to understand as much as possible. Later, you can listen and read the script at the same time, but just for now, try to understand as much as you can.

[see the script below]

Did you enjoy the Crime vocabulary conversation? Right. So how was Jenny´s hiking trip. It wasn’t very successful because a prisoner had escaped from a prison in the area, so she couldn’t do as much hiking as much as she wanted to do. Poor Jenny!

Now we´re going to look at some words and expressions from that conversation that you can learn and you should also use. OK?

1 A prison

A “prison” is the large building where they send you if you commit a crime and you´re convicted of that crime. For example, “They sent him to prison for 7 years.”

2 A prisoner

A “prisoner” is someone who is in prison who has been convicted of a crime and has to spend time in prison. For example, “The prisoner was released after 3 months.”

3 To escape

If a prisoner “escapes” from prison, he/she leaves the prison secretly. For example, “The prisoner escaped after just 3 months in the prison.”

 4 To accuse someone of something

If you “accuse someone of” a crime, you say that person has committed the crime. For example, “She was accused of stealing the money.”

5 Assault

“Assault” is the crime of physically hurting someone or being violent to someone. So you can use it as a verb or a noun. For example, “He was sent to prison for assaulting the police officer.”

6 Drug trafficking

“Drug trafficking” is the crime of making, distributing and selling illegal drugs. For example, “He was accused of drug trafficking.”

7 Money laundering

And finally, “money laundering” is the process of “cleaning” illegal money. For example, if you “do the laundry”, you wash your clothes. This is where this verb comes from. So “money laundering” is taking money that has come from illegal activities like drug trafficking or robberies, and then putting it into businesses or banks so it appears to have come from a legitimate source, and it appears to be clean. “The bank was charged with money laundering.”

So there you have 7 words and expressions for talking about crime that you can use right now!

Now, let’s try a little exercise. And then you can read the script and watch the video at the same time.


Language quiz!

Try our little language quiz on Crime vocabulary  to see how much you can remember. [answers below]

  1. If a prisoner does this, they leave the prison secretly = to _______
  2. The crime of physically hurting someone or being violent to someone = _______
  3. The process of “cleaning” illegal money and making it appear as if it’s come from a legitimate source = money _______
  4. The large building where they send you if you commit a crime = a _______
  5. Someone who is in prison and who has been convicted of a crime = a _______
  6. The crime of making, distributing and selling illegal drugs = drug _______
  7. If you do this, you say that someone has committed the crime = to _______ someone of something.
  8. The _______ was released from prison after 3 months.
  9. He was involved in a drug _______ gang.
  10. They sent him to _______ for 7 years.
  11. He was sent to prison for _______ the police officer.
  12. The bank was charged with money _______ for the Mafia.
  13. She was _______ of stealing the money.
  14. The prisoner _______ after just 3 months in the prison.

Video script

Jenny: [fades in] I had something… it wasn´t exactly the same, but do you remember like a few months ago when I went on that hiking trip?
Archie: Right, yeah it was really cool you said.
J: Yeah, but I got to the hotel and there were all these police officers in like the reception area, like fifty of them.
A: Fifty? [and I thought…] Was it like a convention or…?
J: Yeah, that’s what I thought! Oh, it’s like a police conference or something. No, it turns out, up the road from the hotel is the prison, and one of the prisoners escaped and he was this really dangerous guy. He was accused of assault and drug trafficking and Money laundering, like a real criminal.
A: OK, so not such a cool hike?
J: No, and so all the police were searching like the whole forest area for this guy, and in the end, we only got to go on one hike because they advised us not to go into the forest [Surprised you went on any hike.] because this dangerous guy was there. So, OK I’ll forgive you for being late this time.
A: OK, OK thank you…phew.
J: Alright.


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  1. escape; 2. assault; 3. laundering; 4. prison; 5. prisoner; 6. trafficking; 7. accuse; 8. prisoner; 9. trafficking; 10. prison; 11. assaulting; 12. laundering; 13. accused; 14. escaped

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